If you'd like to know how I act when I'm tired.
Reaction in the midst of my life moment.
When I was super sad and my friends and family let me call them.
The past few weeks have taught me a lot about how it's okay to be angry sometimes. I worked very hard to not be an angry person anymore because as a child I was always angry. It felt like I had no control unless I was angry. I didn't know any other feeling really except anger growing up that when I left all of that behind I decided I didn't really need to be that angry anymore. It doesn't mean I didn't have problems with it, I still do. Just the other day I yelled at two people I loved because I was frustrated by something they were saying. How I responded wasn't okay, but how I choose to respond now makes it a learning experience.
First off, if you have any sort of rough emotional patch, there are three things you should be focusing on before anything else: food, shelter, and sleep. Out of those three, sleep is in my top 1 because if I don't get enough sleep, my ability to control my own behaviors is almost impossible. There are moments where I will just start crying out of nowhere. Sometimes I'll go on these rants where I have no idea what I have said but apparently I needed to talk about it in the moment. Other times I will just not even make any sense because my brain is so wired from lack of sleep that every thought that comes in to my head slips out of the cracks. I call it my verbal diarrhea moments.
As soon as I got more than 4 hours of sleep, or if I take a nap instead of running myself ragged, all of those issues go away. That's how important sleeping is. I haven't slept well for about 7 months now. Because of this, all I can focus on is those three basic needs because if I don't do those, I can't function. That can happen to a lot of people. Ever notice that when you are fighting with your significant other or family member, and it's late at night, you somehow seem to say a lot more than you actually mean to? That's from the fact that you need to sleep.
A therapist of mine way back when told me a very simple rule when it comes to dealing with conflicts: don't fight after 9 PM. Recently I have also learned through experience that you shouldn't fight before 7 AM. If I'm asleep and someone wakes me up to fight, it's way more likely for me to be mean than it would be after 7 AM. Same goes for after 9 PM. I'm not alone in this, because a lot of girls I have talked to have the same issue when they come to me for advice.
The hierarchy of needs is a vital piece of information in regards to dealing with how to not react like that, step by step. I will just be focusing on the first three for now. Abraham Maslow was one of the first psychologists to focus on behavior rather than clinical analysis.
First off, if you have been following what Sigmund Freud preaches, stop, because he was actually a sexist bigot. Many of his ideas about woman were in fact way off target. Not every woman envies a penis, and if they do it is not because men are the superior being. If you want to follow any psychologist, follow the teachings of Abraham Maslow. Behavioral psychology focuses on the behaviors that are happening in the present moment instead of why those behaviors exist. Behavioral psychology works better for illnesses like anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. Some of us don't understand why certain things bother us. I myself had no idea why I hated bathrobes so much until three years ago. There are plenty of things that I think to myself, why the hell do I do this? But, that's why behavioral psychology works so well!
Maslow's hierarchy of needs breaks down how a person can build themselves up after a trauma. If you want to come from the perspective of growth, the first step to recovery is the physiological needs of a human being. These are the needs that I was talking about before. Building a healthy foundation leads to a healthy human being. So, while it may feel nice to go and date someone right after being traumatized, building a foundation can help prevent being retraumatized later on.
Safety is your physical and emotional safety. This could include finances, where you're living, whether or not you understand healthy boundaries, etc.
Love/belonging is having intimate relationships and friendships with other people. What's the unhealthiest way to heal from a trauma is to jump right to the love/belonging. If you are not emotionally safe within yourself, you can create intimate relationships with people you don't even know. While you might think that it wouldn't hurt you, 99/100 times it will if you are not taking care of yourself and not creating safety boundaries for yourself.
The time period between each level can vary depending on the situation. Sometimes it will take someone way longer to be financially secure because they are homeless. Other times it will take 5 years for someone to understand what healthy boundaries look like. If you don't know what healthy boundaries are and how to set them with others, then you probably shouldn't be dating.
From all the stories that I have heard, it seems to me that many women struggle with understanding what it means to be safe. The most important way to understand how to be safe, especially if you have been assaulted and are recovering, is knowing how to set healthy boundaries within yourself and with others. This means that if you don't know how to tell someone no, learn! It's always so flattering to be seen as pretty and treated like royalty for a minute, but when the first situation happens where you don't like what someone is doing to you and you don't say something, you WILL get sucked in to a situation that is toxic and out of control. If you don't know how to communicate with others how you feel, I will give you a few examples of mine that I've dealt with over the past 7 years.
Five or six years ago I worked with a man whose long-term girlfriend worked with us as well. From what I observed, every time his girlfriend was not working with him, he would gravitate towards me and start flirting with me. I didn't think twice about it up until I was giving him a ride home from work and he started to suggest that we start making out as a joke. Some girls don't care, but because I'm me I thought about his girlfriend and their four kids and I responded with, "In your dreams." He laughed it off and so did I, and we were still friends afterwards. But, every time he would hit on me without his girlfriend at work, I would respond with something similar.
There is a massive benefit to setting healthy boundaries when you are uncomfortable and not ready for an intimate relationship. When you say how you feel, you not only are preventing a situation that might hurt you, but you also gain a lot more respect from those men that choose to treat women like that. If they are a good enough man they will no longer treat you like that, and if they continue to treat you like that, you just get need to be more blunt. If you have to say, "Dude, leave me the fuck alone." do it! If someone's not getting the message, it doesn't matter how nice you're being they won't stop until you tell them no or cut them out of your life.
If you want to date after after experiencing trauma, you have the freedom to do so. All I'm saying is maybe there's a reason why situations happen with significant others where we become involved in a toxic situation that spirals out of control. Deciding to say no and setting boundaries is what caused my ex husband to leave abruptly. If that's how I have to set boundaries with someone, that is what I will do, because I will respect myself more because of it and it will prevent situations like this from happening in the future.
I'm going to be real with all the women out there. I am horrible at dating. I don't know if I'm the only person like this, but I actually hate going on dates. Making myself up to look cute and fancy is not in my schedule. Maybe it's having three different jobs, but honestly dating sounds like the most exhausting thing. Don't get me wrong, if girls who like to dress up and go out to a nice restaurant or a concert that's really exciting for me because I get to watch them feel beautiful for a minute. Seeing women who put on makeup and the looks on their faces when they feel more confident in themselves is wonderful to see. I guess I'm just too tired to care. The effort of pretending to be something I'm not is not really in my energy bracket right now.
Dating seemed to me to be just really uncomfortable moments with someone that I didn't know wearing something I didn't want to be wearing and talking about something I didn't have an interest in. Flirting honestly is boring to me because there are better and more important things to be doing with my time. I honestly enjoy helping people more than I do pretending to be someone different. Being with someone shouldn't be that difficult. In my mind, the person you are in a relationship with should make you feel comfortable enough to not care about how you look or what you wear. My ex used to tell me when we first dated that it didn't matter what I looked like because he thought I was beautiful even without makeup on. It was the first time I felt like someone had called me truly beautiful, even though I'd heard it before. That is one of the moments I appreciated back then, and something that I remember now that I loved about him. When you leave any relationship, it's important to remember the things that you realized mattered more than they did in the moment.
Maybe that's why I don't care about dating anymore. It could be the dozens of things that I need to do before August 1st. Maybe it's the fact that I have a dog who has behavioral issues and needs a lot of attention. Or it could be the number of hours I've had to pick up at other jobs. Or that I run out of health insurance in September, don't know if I'll have the internet, can't remember the last time I slept more than 4 hours at a time. Or who knows, it could be because I really hate dating.
All I'm saying is, if a woman in adulthood really sees all of the responsibilities and decisions that you have to deal with, there are more important things than whether or not you get asked out on a date. If you are the kind of person who gets worried about not going out on a date ever again, I have a piece of advice: instead of thinking about the next romance, take a second and look around at all of the people around you that you could be enjoying a conversation with. Talk to that older woman that's sitting next to you on the bus. Or that little kid who's excited about his fruit snacks. It doesn't have to be someone who takes you out to fancy dinners.
My favorite thing to do right now is slightly odd, but totally gratifying. Every time I go to the grocery store and I spot an older man or woman putting their groceries away, I walk over to them and help. It's amazing to me how many people don't do this anymore. Every time I have done this, I always get a welcoming and surprised smile by someone who didn't expect any help. Another thing I love to do is to enjoy the people that I'm around in the moment. I have a lot of friends even though I've been really bad at doing things outside of my comfort zone. I have so many people who care about me because instead of planning to be friends, I choose to be best friends with everyone in that moment. I find that if you are just yourself in front of someone you don't know, it's a lot easier to not care about their opinion because who knows if you'll ever see them again?
Maybe that's why I'm really bad at dating. Planning to be something I'm not is impossible because I am already bad at planning to spend time with my friends. I've gotten a lot better since this all happened, only because of the fact that I realized that the most important people in my life are the friends and family I have who stick with me because they do know me, and love me because of it. I would rather use my energy on those that don't expect it than on those who expect me to be something I'm not.
Let's talk about one of my worst qualities, because let me tell you I'm not perfect. Ever since I was a kid I've never been able to keep my mouth shut. I have zero filter. I would say whatever I felt regardless if it hurt someone's feelings. What was worse was that I actually cared that I was hurting someone's feelings. I didn't mean to, I just had no ability to not say how I felt.
Present day: I still have no filter. I think one of the qualities that stands out is that for me at least, sharing my truth with others matters more to me than ever before. Having the ability to speak your mind is one of the beautiful gifts in life that you only notice when it is taken away from you. Being an artist and an advocate for other women like myself, I have the responsibility as well as the capacity to speak my truth regardless of what others will say. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I don't mind sharing, and I don't mind when others think I'm weird for being way too open about myself and my life. Even now, writing on this blog can be the most uncomfortable feeling, only because I don't know who's reading it and I don't know what they will get out of it. But, the beauty of discovering your own personal voice is that you reach a point where it doesn't matter what others reactions are because you feel nothing but empathy and understanding for those points in your life where others might feel ashamed.
Talking so openly about getting divorced was actually one of the hardest points to open up about. Yet, because I am so exhausted and have no filter, I've been able to move past the idea that I failed and instead look at this as an opportunity for growth. Why be ashamed of an experience when it has brought so many opportunities into my life to grow and change?
Being exhausted brings out the worst in this quality. I have been around complete strangers recently who I have just opened up to without even knowing their name. I have zero ability to not talk, and when I talk, I talk about the things that matter to me in that moment, even if they are way too serious. If someone asks me how I'm feeling, I'll tell them. At first, it was terrifying to admit to what was happening, because who wouldn't be ashamed? If someone up and leaves you, how could you not question your worth as a person. Expectations are hard, especially the high expectations we all put on ourselves. What was beautiful about these moments where I seemed to forget about myself is that the responses that I was getting were perfect for me in the moment. Instead of my friends and family responding out of pity, they came with open arms and honesty telling me I was worth more than the cards that I was dealt. I realized that in life, I mattered more to myself than I could matter to anyone else.
The other day I was talking to a woman who was also going through a divorce with her husband of 15 years who was a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. Hearing her story and how she was dealing with moving on helped me to understand that there are other women like myself who have waited for their loved ones to get better, even though usually those people would not help themselves. And that's the reality of it. When I express my feelings, I have zero capability of hiding the truth. If I am not sleeping it's very evident. If I'm not eating, you can tell. If I am going through a hard time, I will cry openly in front of people that I don't know and run away like an idiot because I can't hold it in.
Having no filter has it's benefits and downsides. I am able to connect with people very easily because I am so willing to share. I have made so many lifelong friends because I have no filter, and for some reason they like that about me. I have also been able to help women like myself by opening up so they don't have to. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to speak the truth for so many women who cannot because they do not have the capacity yet or do not know how. Having no filter also means that I lose a lot of people. While there are many who are still my friends, I have definitely made my own personal enemies because for whatever reason, some people don't like to hear the truth. I've had people who I hadn't seen in years still hateful towards me for things that I had already forgotten about. I've had members of my own family cut off contact with me because I set a boundary as to how I want to be treated as a person. I've gotten plenty of weird looks from people who I talk to like they've been a lifelong friend, and most of the time I think that I lose some opportunities because I make others uncomfortable.
For a very long time I hated the fact that I had no filter. I wanted to be like everyone else, a person who could keep their mouth shut and follow along with the rest. I wanted to have a million friends and I wanted to be cool and collected, suave and seductive. I wanted a lot of things out of myself that really just don't exist. I'm an eccentric hermit who is also social. I don't expect much out of others because I've done everything for myself. I have no filter because I had to grow up defending my story from others who were trying to manipulate my truth to make themselves feel better. I have had a really weird life to be honest. No one really prepares you for situations that are out of your control. But, what I have learned to love about not having a filter is that I don't feel ashamed or embarrassed to express myself in the moment because I've learned that telling the truth has way more benefits than downfalls, even if it means others will not like me.
Moral of this post: Don't hold back just because it might make someone else uncomfortable. Don't hide your truth because you're worried others will judge you. After 26 years of experiencing my inability to keep my mouth shut, I've learned that the people who leave because I share so easily are the ones that I wouldn't want to be friends with anyways. And honestly, for all the hundreds of people who haven't like me, there are thousands who do.
P.S. Also, let's be real, friendships that last a lifetime matter more than any relationship you can ever have. Love is love, regardless if it involves romance in the mix. And I have never felt more loved by myself and others than now, so who cares, it's just a piece of paper.